Friday, February 3, 2012

Eyeshadow Finish. Does it Matter?

Several years ago, I gave little thought to eyeshadow finish. I made my purchases based on color—usually variations on grey, lavender, and pale pinkish ivories—and I tended to use the same two eyeshadows every day.

No, that was NOT a typo. If I owned more than six eyeshadows before 2008, I'd be surprised.

I have always been drawn to matte finishes, for their subtlety (as in, absence of glitter) and because my lids used to be oily. To this day, I remain an eyeshadow color minimalist—jewel tones, vibrants, and deep hues look weird on me—but even with a collection of goof-proof neutral colors, I can still spend 10 minutes applying and blending 2-3 different "colors" to make it look as though I am not wearing any eye makeup at all. It's hard to achieve the same result with a metallic finish.

The eyelid oil that once showed up daily by 10 AM has all but dried up (except in summer), so I find myself shopping much less often for matte eyeshadows because as irony would have it, I want some of that youthful glow back—the same oil I used to attack hourly with powder and blotting papers.

The search for The Youthful Glow means I now look at formula and finish along with the color. Too much shimmer might as well shine a spotlight on crepey skin. Too matte and my lids can look chalky, ashen, and dry. Some cream eyeshadows can actually suck all the moisture out of my skin, making it look like crumpled tissue paper. So my shadow collection orbits around satin and creamy matte finishes these days. That might change but that's what I use now.

In no particular order, here are some of my favorite eyeshadow brands, which happen to be very forgiving to maturing eyes:

Rouge Bunny Rouge. I love this brand's matte and semi-matte formulas, which are so rich, finely milled, and luminous they hardly feels like powder. There is no fallout, the color stays true all day without creasing, and the finish gleams without ever looking dusty or dry.

Chantecaille. Their Shine finish is sheer, luminous, layerable, available in beautiful colors, and imparts a glowy sheen. My favorites are Perle and Meteorite. All three Chantecaille formulas are very nice, but I prefer the Shine for the subtle glow that never looks aging.

Becca. The demi-matt formula is glorious. You won't (currently) find exciting pops of color in this line, but you will find a beautiful selection of realistic, skin-tone colors. I love to wear Chantilly (a dusty lavender greige) as an allover base.

Laura Mercier. It isn't as common to see Mercier products reviewed on blogs, not compared to other brands. I am not sure why that is, because she offers some of the prettiest, most wearable colors in excellent formulas. Her Sateen eyeshadow finish is excellent for maturing lids, and it comes in gorgeous, subtle colors. Personal favorites are Sable and Stellar. Alas, her matte formula is not kind to my eyelid skin.

Bobbi Brown. This line deserves an honorable mention even though most of her eyeshadows are too warm on me. With Bobbi Brown's neutrals, it's all about nuance. I've had decent luck with the Shimmerwash finish (Sterling and Rock) and I like the pearly sheen this formula leaves.

Do you shop based on color or collection, or do you care primarily about the finish of your eyeshadows?

Photo credit stock images


  1. Zuzu, I was deathly afraid of shimmer until last year. Then suddenly everything changed! I'm still a neutral-lover and also go the extra mile for the most natural look (does that make any sense?!?) and even have a shadow by theBalm that sort of works as an eraser if I apply a dark shadow with a heavy hand. Nowadays, I like a mix of matte and shimmer. But sometimes I love just a wash of pale cream shimmer like Benefit Birthday Suit or RSVP.

    1. Liz, Birthday Suit makes my heart go pitter pat. It's such a shame it doesn't look good on me. It's like finally getting a date with the hottest guy in school only to find out he kisses like a guppy.

  2. Hi Zuzu, another great entry. Like Liz above, I used to be a shimmer-phobe too. Bobbi Brown mattes were a staple since they seem to look natural no matter what. (Side note: I've never noticed the same orange turning problem with the shadows, but her foundations certainly do!!) I think it might have to do with the shape of the eyes as well--- perhaps for more sunken orbits, the shimmer can bring brightness. However it can conversely look like a mirrorball if there is too much lid space! Lately I really love a slight shimmer. I usually like to lay it down with a fluffy brush so that it's more of a wash blended in. I think a little bit definitely has a nice brightening effect.

    I think we have quite a similar taste in colors. I've always loved swatches of LM sable and BB rock, though I own neither (yet). I also noticed that Laura Mercier is not so popular amongst bloggers, including myself. I her eyeshadows are beautiful, but they lack the special nuances and character that really make me grab and go! (I realize that is a very generalized and hand waving type of statement). I think she doesn't really have a niche. For example, in comparison I think Bobbi Brown has better neutrals, Chanel has prettier colors, NARS has trendier colors, and YSL has more exciting colors. LM is kind of in the middle. (Again more hand waving) :)

    1. Laura Mercier's brand is definitely more quiet a brand, and I completely agree that Bobbi Brown has the best lineup of neutrals out there. I WISH with all my heart that her eyeshadows didn't turn on me. I don't even understand why the do because my lids aren't even that oily anymore. Cement, for example, is the absolute perfect, everyday, cool-neutral eyeshadow shade ... in the pan. On me, it looks good for about an hour, and when I see myself midday I want to start singing, "Ooompa loompa, doopety doo."

      I am in the minority in that I have never found much Chanel to love--across the line. The only two eyeshadows that I ever made work (and halfheartedly liked) were Slate and Lavande.

      I really love some of the NARS I've tried (and desperately want Lhasa), but I just never hung onto it. I guess I prefer palette systems.

  3. Yay! Somebody else who loves Chantecaille eyeshadows as much as I do! I have a few, including an awesome palette I got that came out before Christmas. I haven't reviewed it, but I should! I have Granite, Quartz too, and Meteorite is my fave grey ever.
    Have you ever tried their blushes? I adore them.
    Luckily I haven't had to worry about changing what finish of shadow I use yet, but it will happen soon. But I do find that a shadow with sheen makes me look more awake and healthy.

    1. I do love Chantecaille blush! Whisper and Joy and Emotion are all great. Joy, especially, which has a tiny bit of coral to make the rose interesting. I wish the blush finish had a little glow to it, though. It seems completely matte, which I would have loved in my 20s!

      I realize this is unpleasant, but I think the change in eyeshadow color comes from eyelid discoloration. I do not know what causes that discoloration, but it has made eyeshadows I wore for many years when I was younger an impossibility now. :P

  4. I like geeking out over ALL aspects of makeup: finish, texture and colour are equally important for me. That said, I don't think I've quite worked out my system for choosing things yet -- there's still more trial and error involved. Because I've always had dry skin (crepey looking lids at 20, woot) and hooded lids, Western metallic 'foiled' or glittery finishes are not flattering. But E Asian shimmers/glitters usually ARE because they're different beasts entirely (atouchofblusher explains this much better). Likewise, RBR mattes are creamy enough to flatter, whereas subtle 'satins' from the likes of LM or BB make me look haggard, because they're dry.

    1. I really like Ea Asian makeup and am sad that I can no longer bop on down to the Shu boutique, especially now that I am no longer wearing as many mattes and would want to handle and try on the various shimmer/metallic/iridescent finishes to see how the wear. Paul & Joe has some beautiful colors, but I don't care for the gold sparkles. If that glitter was silver or white or pink or blue I would not mind it at all. I'll have to go read what atouchofblusher is saying about Asian-made eyeshadow finishes.

      I am this |---| close to buying a Suqqu eyeshadow palette ... if only all four squares were not equal in size. That is, I wish they doubled the size of the base pan and halved the size of the eyeliner pan. It would take me decades to use up one of those liner pans!

  5. Almost all my eyeshadows (or at least the ones I use) are Nars. The pigment levels, colours and shimmer levels work for me.

    I still lust after the Guerlain Rue du Passy set though and Rouge Bunny Rouge colours are tempting me too.

    1. I don't do browns well, but one of the most outstanding cool browns I ever tried was NARS Bali. I should unearth that from wherever it is hiding. And I know it is only a matter of time before I cave in and buy Lhasa. Oh, and there were some purple colors in a NARS palette I have kicking around somewhere that I love. The colors were Demon something or other in a Paris palette---at least that's how I remember it. It's been a year or more since I used that.


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